From Mr Thomas Rookes
In regard to Dr Ryan Danker’s article on The Reformation [New Directions November 2017] it seems to me that there is a strong difference between what happened with the reforms instituted by Martin Luther and what happened in Britain because in our case this was about King Henry VIII taking control of the English church. Initially he had been so enthusiastic about the established church that Pope Leo X had made him Defender of the Faith. It was when the Pope refused his divorce from Catherine of Aragon that he changed his mind. Had the king not been so impatient events would have worked out in his favour because Queen Catherine died three years after he divorced her. Had Henry not tried to control his own destiny it is likely that Protestantism would have gained gradual acceptance if by no other means than by Parliament. There would have been no persecution of Catholics, no Gunpowder Plot, and perhaps no Civil War. England would have been a culturally richer country in which the artistic treasures of the monasteries were retained and where the Italian form of opera would have been accepted without attacks on opera houses. Of course this begs the question of what the royal succession would have been but I am assuming that events would have followed a similar path without the bloodletting and hysteria. On looking at the paintings from the Tudor period in the National Portrait Gallery some time ago I saw a lot of frightened men.
The element of tolerance is what is needed today. The strife between different religious factions plays into the hands of those who wish to point the finger of blame. The progress made towards unity between the Catholic and Orthodox churches and the loyalty to church teaching shown by some of the African churches where people queue up in their thousands contrasts with our secularised western society where such thinking is no longer valued.
Thomas E Rookes
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